Like he had done decades ago, Silver Grill Cafe owner John Arnolfo packed up and set out with a batch of fresh cinnamon rolls Wednesday.
Loaded down with freshly made rolls — and takeout menus — Arnolfo pedaled his friend’s borrowed rickshaw through Old Town.
When he came across someone, he handed them a menu and a roll, free of charge, to spread the word that Silver Grill Cafe is still open for takeout, curbside pickup and delivery.
“I think you have to be out there right now and you have to show people that we’re going to get through this difficult time,” Arnolfo said.
After Gov. Jared Polis ordered all Colorado restaurants, bars and breweries close to public dining and drinking Monday — moving all operations to food delivery or takeout — Silver Grill Cafe, like many other local restaurants, have gotten creative.
From 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily, the breakfast mainstay will be taking takeout, curbside pickup and delivery orders. When the weather allows, Arnolfo will deliver orders across Old Town via the rickshaw. When it snows, he and other employees will make the treks by car.
“We’ve faced some adversity — 9/11, financial crises,” Arnolfo said. “But this is by far like nothing I’ve ever experienced.”
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Arnolfo said Silver Grill Cafe’s new rickshaw delivery method takes him back to when he purchased the restaurant 41 years ago. Back then, he said, it wasn’t uncommon for him to walk door-to-door selling cinnamon rolls.
Now he’s using the rickshaw, and beefed-up takeout options, in hopes of keeping food orders coming through the cafe.
“I have 50 employees and most of them are laid off,” Arnolfo said, adding that he’s trying to scrounge up hours for his remaining employees by having them organize the business’ basement storage and making general building improvements.
“We’re trying to do a public service while keeping people employed,” he added.
Larimer County’s economic and workforce development department saw “a definite uptick” in people asking questions about unemployment insurance Tuesday. Of those who called, the majority were from industries impacted by Polis’ order closing restaurants, bars, gyms, theaters and more, according to the department’s economic development manager Adam Crowe.
Statewide, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) saw a 1600% surge in unemployment insurance claims from March 9 to Tuesday, when more than 6,800 unemployment claims were filed compared with 400 little more than a week earlier, according to a CDLE news release.
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Back in Fort Collins — on a sleepier-than-usual stretch of College Avenue — The Colorado Room is holding out hope that takeout, curbside pickup and delivery orders will create enough work for its roughly 25 employees amid the sweeping COVID-19 closures.
The cozy, homegrown restaurant — which typically serves up sliders and poutine to lively masses during concerts and comedy nights on its back patio — is largely quiet.
Its weekday hours have been shortened from 11 a.m. to midnight to 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., co-owner Justin Serr told the Coloradoan on Wednesday. No employees have been laid off, Serr said.
“We’ll try for the next couple of weeks to see what delivery and pickup does,” Serr said. “If (it’s not enough), we’ll probably have to close until they let the public back in and hopefully reopen.”
The Colorado Room is taking takeout orders by phone, over EatStreet.com and in-person, though space is limited in the restaurant’s dining room after being sectioned off to keep customers more than six feet apart, per recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control.
Delivery is also possible through DoorDash, Grubhub and NoCo Nosh, Serr said. The restaurant is also still selling The Colorado Room merchandise and gift cards, he added.
“People still need to eat, so hopefully they still order food,” Serr said. “Hopefully, we’ll all make it through to the other end. We’re just giving it our best one day at a time.”
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Erin Udell reports on news, culture, history and more for the Coloradoan. Contact her at ErinUdell@coloradoan.com. The only way she can keep doing what she does is with your support. If you subscribe, thank you. If not, sign up for a subscription to the Coloradoan today.
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